Originally published in September/October 1984 La Leche League News
Editor’s Note: The first issue of La Leche League News, the bimonthly publication for members, was published in 1958. The name changed to New Beginnings in 1985. New Beginnings continued to publish until 2014 when it switched to its current blog format at www.lllusa.org/blog/.
I am one of those mothers who never questioned the benefits of breastfeeding. I always knew that when I had children I would nurse them. I was convinced it was best, both nutritionally and emotionally.
I had intended to let my daughter Nicole wean herself, so I never set a specific timetable for weaning. When I read articles by mothers telling how painful it was for them when their babies stopped nursing, I was sure this was how I would feel when Nicole weaned.
Nicole and I always had a beautiful nursing relationship. As an infant, she nursed on demand, and I was very comfortable nursing her as a toddler. At three-and-a-half years old, she still nursed often and was not easily distracted when I tried to encourage playing instead. All of a sudden, I began to be overwhelmed with negative emotions about nursing her so often. I felt used, manipulated, and frustrated. How did these feelings sneak up on me? I wasn’t sure, but I did know I was having a hard time coming to grips with them.
I decided to talk to my La Leche League friends and re-read Mothering Your Nursing Toddler. No matter what I did, these feelings didn’t go away.
I finally decided to tell Nicole we would no longer be nursing all day long, that we would save nursing for bedtime. She obviously wasn’t quite sure what that meant. That evening she asked to nurse—out of boredom it seemed to me—and I said, “We will nurse at bedtime, but let’s play now.” That was totally unacceptable to her. She kept insisting and got quite upset. I held her lovingly, and let her know I loved her and wasn’t refusing her because of something she had done. She calmed down after a while and we played together. This happened again the following evening, but it hasn’t happened since. She still asks to nurse occasionally when it is not bedtime, but I can distract her with play. This seems to me to indicate she was nursing more from habit than need a lot of the time.
I realize she won’t just forget about nursing right away. However, by changing my routine to give her extra time and attention when we used to nurse, she seems satisfied. At bedtime, I can finally enjoy nursing her without any negative feelings.
If you are at a low point in your nursing relationship with your toddler or child, consider why this is happening. Perhaps there is something you can do to change things without total weaning. Talk it over with someone who will understand, read everything available to you, consider what is best for you and your child, and then follow your heart.
Source: LLL USA – http://www.lllusa.org/blog/